This Week I Love …


… upfront payout consignment stores.

I’ve been consigning my clothes for many years now, and used to take ALL of my stuff to the Turn Style stores. I’d had decent luck, though the consignment model was a little frustrating: I brought in my items, buyers looked them over, took what they wanted, put them on the floor, and IF someone bought them I could collect my percentage two weeks later. If no one bought them, I could pick them up at the end of the season. Fair, certainly, but long and sometimes fruitless.

When I purge my closet, I follow these guidelines: Anything more than a few years old goes to thrift and charity stores, anything with a recognizable and covetable brand name (Fluevog, Frye) goes to eBay, but the in-betweeners go to consignment. Items that are relatively new and in good shape, but too much trouble to list on eBay. Late last year when I began transitioning my style in earnest, I decided to branch out and try a few other consignment options. And I’m ever so glad I did.

Chains like Style EncoreBuffalo Exchange, Clothes Mentor, Plato’s Closet, Crossroads, and Everyday People run things a little differently. You bring in your items, buyers look them over, make you a cash or trade offer for the items they want to take, and you leave the store with cash and any rejects. Percentages vary from store to store, but in most cases you’ll be offered between 30% and 50% of the planned selling price. And, ya know, no waiting to see if you’ll get paid or not.

What I’ve learned about upfront payout consignment stores:

  • Call ahead to find out what they’re most interested in buying. If they’re full up on boots and you bring them five pairs, they’ll pass. Especially if storage is limited.
  • Some chains buy for all seasons year-round, but others are season-specific. Make sure you know your shops’ preferences.
  • Most stores want stuff that was made within the past two years, especially when it comes to clothes. They can be a little more lenient with shoes and accessories.
  • Wear and tear will work against you. If a sweater is drowning in pills or shoes could really stand a new heel tip, be prepared for passes.
  • Many stores have specialties and they influence buying behaviors. The obvious one is Plato’s Closet which caters to tweens and teens, but some are subtler. Most Clothes Mentor stores focus on mid-market, mall, workwear items, but Buffalo Exchanges often take covetable vintage items.
  • If you can, make a day of it. Pack up your consignables, start with your favorite store, and then take your rejects around to any other nearby stores. (If you’re like me, after about three stores you’ll be ready to surrender the leftovers to your favorite thrift shop.)

Anyone else consign with cash-payout stores? Are there any other chains I’m missing? Folks outside the U.S., do your consignment shops typically pay you out immediately or wait to see if your items sell?

Image courtesy Buffalo Exchange.

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8 Responses to “This Week I Love …”

  1. two_owls

    Do such stores even exist outside the US? I live in the UK, and I’ve never heard about any consignment stores here. Ditto for Norway where I lived before. Here you can find dozens of charity shops in one place, but none of them will pay you anything for your stuff. So for me it’s either that or eBay.

    • Rebekah Jaunty

      I’ve seen them here in Germany with names like “designer secondhand” and a small sign saying they’ll only buy clothes by appointment. Sadly, my area doesn’t have anything like a Buffalo Exchange or Plato’s Closet. I miss them!

    • JB

      I’ve been to a really cool high-end consignment store in Bath – can’t remember the name now. But that one may be the exception.

    • Jan

      In Germany you have consignment stores (not only designer ones) and a lot of charity shops. I live in a small town and unfortunately I have only charity shops nearby, where I can give my clothes to (or public containers, where clothes are collected in). No possibility to get some money back.

  2. Helena

    I like your suggestions! Plato’s Closet is my consignment store of choice. They have both rejected and accepted different offerings I have made. I hate to shop their clearance sales, though. There are women wall-to-wall and you can’t make a rational selection, because of the jostling.

  3. Marlen

    Yes, it’s so hassle free! Sometimes it’s disappointing when they only buy a couple of things and you lug those big bags to the car, but sometimes you can get lucky. I also sometimes bring in the same bag of clothes two to three times, since different buyers will pick up different pieces 🙂 Sneaky.

    xo Marlen
    Messages on a Napkin

  4. crtfly


    I wonder if the originator of Plato’s Closet stores has a Philosophy degree. Is s/he really referencing Plato’s Cave or is that a coincidence? I wonder how many of the people who shop there have ever heard of Plato’s Cave or get the significance? It’s good for all of us to remember to stop focusing on the shadows on the cave wall and get outside in the light and see the real thing!


    • Sally McGraw

      Good question, Chris! I did a quick search and found two answers that both make sense:

      The owners asked their teenage son to help them come up with a name for the business. The son was studying Plato in school and had developed a great respect for him so that is the name he chose.

      Plato’s theories of reusing and preservation appeared to be a good parallel to the unique idea of recycling.